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Strong is the New Skinny

I want to preface this post by saying that I am not a health expert, nor do I even pretend to know all there is to know about fitness and health. I'm just sharing my journey with all of you. I hope it will be an encouragement to those reading and that maybe it will inspire you to take baby steps to become just a bit healthier. I'm only sharing my journey and my personal results. You can read more about my journey to a healthier me in this post. You can also see some before and after pictures in that post. The most recent after picture can be seen here.

For about the past year and a half (maybe longer because, really, who's counting?) I ran as my main (only) form of exercise. I mean I always enjoyed running, but I never enjoyed how easily I would get tired or run out of breath.

I wanted to be one of those rock star people you see, who are all fit and run for hours a day. Well, reality hit and guess what?

I'm not one of those rock star people.

Surprise. Surprise.

So I started fresh. Brand new. I hadn't run in, well, in years. I had however heard about this program called Couch to 5K. Ok, I heard about it a lot. I kept hearing about it. And I thought maybe I should pay attention to it.

Once I decided to follow through with this crazy, half-baked plan of mine, I knew I needed accountability. And I knew just where to find that accountability.

Yep, my kids.

I announced that starting June 1, we were going to train for a 5K. They all stared at me with completely blank looks on their precious little faces. And they did train with me for a while and even joined me occasionally on bikes or rip sticks or scooters or whatever fancied them at the moment.

3 miles is quite a distance for anyone to accomplish. I started with baby steps and by that I mean I followed a Couch to 5K plan. This is the one I used, but there are many options out there. Even apps that you can download to your phone so that it will kick your butt encourage you to keep going.

Couch to 5K literally trains you from having no experience (read: not being able to run) to being able to run for at least 3 miles.

I thought all I have to do is follow this plan 3 days a week. Three days out of seven isn't bad I thought. Piece of cake.

Boy was I wrong! I had to run for one minute followed by walking for one minute for a total of 16 minutes of exercise.

I. Thought. I. Was. Going. To. Die. It was that hard!

I could BARELY run for one minute, and boy did I look forward to that one minute of walking!

At the end of day one, I felt like crying. At the end of week 1, I thought about quitting.

The same time I started the Couch to 5K program, I also started a 30 day ab boot camp. Yeah, that was a mistake. By the end of week one of running and ab work, I could barely move.

I didn't quit. I kept going.

After about 3 or 4 weeks, some friends also joined up in the Couch to 5K training, which was so encouraging and motivating for me.

I took my time working through the program. I didn't stress if I missed a day or two or six. I just kept going.

Eventually by the beginning of the fall, I had worked my way all the way through the program and was able to run a complete distance of 3.1 miles. I felt like it was such an accomplishment! And I was very proud of myself!

Something else amazing happened to me. I started to lose weight. Not just from running obviously, but also from changing my diet and starting to eat healthy. I felt better. I almost completely gave up my soda addiction--Dr. Pepper was my vice. I started sleeping better at night. I could walk AND talk at the same time. My heart and lungs were in excellent shape.

In the winter I still ran outside and just bundled up. Until a truck splashed slush all over me. That's when I discovered the YMCA and all the classes offered there. It was good to do some cross training exercises.

When you are a runner and when that is the only exercise that you do, your muscles become very efficient. I'm sure there's some science behind it, but in short, my muscles were very used to running, so used to running that they really weren't working as hard and therefore weren't burning as much energy. I needed different activities.

I still love to run. BUT I have decided to take a break from running this winter simply because I would need to run for HOURS to achieve weight loss. Two workouts that I have found and love to replace running are MASH-UP and 21 Day Fix.

MASH-UP is an amazing series of 15 minute interval workouts. Each work out rotates between high intensity (cardio) work, weight training, and mind/body (yoga or other such activities). I love these workouts and love that they are short and effective. According to their website, doing these exercises for short intervals is five times more effective than a single exercise done for many minutes in a row (running for example).

I stumbled across the 21 Day Fix at a flea market and picked up the workout disc for a buck. Nothing to lose there I thought. These are 30 minute workouts and they are super intense. I started the first workout after coming off of an illness that had me down and out for about 3 weeks. That first day of exercises kicked my butt and I couldn't even finish it. I blame that on the fact that I had been ill for 3 weeks. But the reality is that it is important for me to exercise my whole body. Running is good, but I knew that I really needed to work out different areas of my body as well.

I may start the 5K training again in the spring, but for now I'm going to stick with these exercise programs and see what results I get. Of course that will be combined with healthy eating and following the Trim Healthy Mama plan along with various health supplements. This post comes at an excellent time for me. Time for me to get back on track after a vacation and the holidays all in a row.

While I'm not exactly where I want to be on the scale, I'm very happy where I currently am in my journey. Sure I'd love to lose 20 more pounds and train for a 10K, but for now I have baby stepped my way to where I am. Our health is such a precious gift. One that we can't afford to waste. There are so many things that I would tell my younger self if I could. So many things that I would do differently. I'm going to be content where I am and keep going, keep trying, keep changing. One step at a time.

Strong is the NEW skinny.

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I feel silly even needing to state this disclaimer, but "better safe than sorry," they say. The talented women participating in this tour are NOT trained physicians (unless they state otherwise). I hope you find their testimony encouraging and motivating - but they are NOT adequate substitutes for the advice of your own doctor, trainer, or other health professional. Please consult an expert before adjusting or creating your own fitness regimen.

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